Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Pregnant women wanted for sleep disturbance survey
One of Massey’s new research medallists wants to recruit up to 1000 pregnant women to continue studies for which she has
Sleep researcher Leigh Signal, with colleague Sarah-Jane Paine, is looking to enlist the interest of 500 Maori and 500
non-Maori women for a study looking at the sleep patterns of pregnant women and the few weeks after they have given
Dr Signal, who is herself expecting a baby in November, will tonight be presented with an Early Career Research Medal at
Massey University’s Research Medals Dinner to be held in the Great Hall at the Wellington Campus.
Dr Signal, who is associate director of the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, aims to determine whether changes in sleep have
an impact on the occurrence of depressive symptoms which may be a precursor to post natal depression.
A US study found evidence that women who had disturbed sleep in late pregnancy also had a longer labour and were up to
five times more likely to have a Caesarean section.
Similar findings were also reflected in a previous HRC funded New Zealand feasibility study of 34 women, which showed
those who needed medical help during the birth of their babies lost significantly more sleep compared to those who had
Dr Signal, pictured, wants to hear from pregnant women in the lower North Island, across all ages of fertility and every
The survey would involve women responding to a written questionnaire in late pregnancy, then a phone interview and a
further written questionnaire after the birth of their baby.
“We need to understand how these relations work for all women and not just a particular sub population of women.”
Dr Paine says for this reason it was especially important to secure the support of Maori women whose experience of
pregnancy could differ from non-Maori.
“For example Maori women were less likely to have medical intervention during labour and birth, “she says.
Dr Signal says women would be recruited from areas and district health boards covering Hawke’s Bay, Mid Central Health,
Wairarapa, Whanganui, Hutt Valley and Capital and Coast as part of the sleep disturbance survey.
“It’s not to say that some of the sleep changes during pregnancy aren’t normal, but we do definitely want to know what
the limits of those changes are.”